Click For More Swordplay

Think you're up to speed on Alexander the Great? A&E Television Networks' History is hoping to draw in aficionados of the ancient world's most notorious conflicts with the launch this week of an interactive application on Dish Network.

The application is tied to History's premiere of Battles BC, an eight-episode series profiling military leaders including Hannibal, Caesar and David (of Goliath fame). AETN has promoted the show, which premieres on Monday, March 9, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, as featuring CGI effects in the style of 300, the movie recounting the Battle of Thermopylae.

History's ITV app, developed by Ensequence, features factoids, photos and quizzes and lets viewers set their Dish DVR to record upcoming shows on the channel. An interactive prompt will pop up for viewers within 2 minutes of tuning to History, and the application also will be accessible from Dish's ITV menu on channel 100.

"What we've done with the application is synchronized elements with the show," said Mark Garner, AETN senior vice president of distribution marketing and business development.

Another angle: The ITV app lets viewers get more information about two of Battle BC's advertisers. The sponsors prefer to stay unnamed until the shows air, but Garner said they're in line with the theme of the show. (Our guess: catapult manufacturers.)

When will AETN bring this capability to cable? Garner said the programmer is awaiting broad commercial deployment of support for Enhanced Binary Interchange Format on set-tops - so an ITV app can be created once and sent to millions of homes.

"The ubiquity of deployment is an obstacle," he said. "The investment and interest in this [on cable] begins when you get scale."